My sister and I were wandering around San Diego’s Little Italy over the summer, and when we visited the James Coffee Company location on India St., I had a fun time geeking out with the employee on duty over everything they had for sale (while my sister watched, bemused). This Prismo attachment caught my eye as I had never heard of it, and the guy working that day told me it was a relatively new product that produced a result much closer to espresso than the regular AeroPress, but he took care to tell me that I should remember his advice to “stir for 20 seconds, not 10.” My sister then bought it for me as an early birthday present (very early in fact, but I’m not arguing!).
It took me a while to get a chance to test out the Prismo because I had issues with the attachment fitting on my AeroPress. I do have to give a shoutout to the folks at Fellow Coffee (the company behind the Prismo), because their customer service is truly exemplary. Nick D. over at Fellow couldn’t have been more helpful or lovely to work with. We did some troubleshooting and determined that of the seven generations of AeroPress models to hit the market, mine was a 4th generation model, and for some reason, the Prismo would not lock onto my model like it would for the others, so Nick made arrangements to send me the newest model of AeroPress, completely free of charge, so that I could use the Prismo! Truly above and beyond.
A common complaint when brewing with the AeroPress is that while brewing but before plunging, some of the water will inevitably drip through the paper filter and through the plastic filter cap into the waiting mug, which is why so many people use the inverted method of brewing instead. The Prismo is meant to replace the standard black filter cap and paper filters that come with the AeroPress, and there is a pressure-activated valve that ensures that no water will drip through until you begin pressing. No more need for inverting your AeroPress, and risking getting something off balance and spilling hot water and grounds all over your kitchen, as happened to me once.
(My new AeroPress with the Prismo attached)
At $25 USD, the Prismo is only a little cheaper than the AeroPress itself, so it might feel like a bit of a splurge to get this, but if this device + the AeroPress could make anything tasting close to espresso, I thought for a combined total of around $55, it would be worth investigating!
For this test, I used the Espresso Delicato blend from Eiland Coffee Roasters, which were 12 days post-roast. Fellow Coffee has a How To page for getting the best results out of your Prismo, and they recommend for the beans to be no older than 10 days post-roast, so I’m starting the test a bit disadvantaged. The Prismo creates more pressure than the AeroPress alone, but less than a typical espresso machine, so the freshness of the beans is extra important for the final result. I ground the beans with my normal espresso grinder, the Baratza Vario, and I had it on my usual settings since I’d been working with these particular beans for a few days already.
I began by following the instructions on the box, for 20 grams of beans with 50 milliliters of water. Incidentally, 50 milliliters = 50 grams, so you don’t have to worry about any conversions if you’re using a scale to weigh your beans/water. The box didn’t give a suggested temperature for heating the water, but I opted to heat the water all the way to boiling, which was the right call according to the Prismo blog. The box said to stir the beans for 10 seconds, so even though the advice I had previously been given was thundering in my head, I went ahead and stirred for 10 seconds in the name of thoroughness.
The Prismo does not nestle securely over a typical espresso cup, so I did not feel safe extracting the brew into one. For picture purposes, I used this double-walled glass mug, but honestly, I was a bit nervous about the possibility of breaking the glass with the amount of force I had to use to press down on the plunger. For normal use, I’d suggest a nice sturdy ceramic mug. Here were my results from the unaltered instructions on the box:
Hardly any crema, but I will say that the result in the cup was rich and smooth, and much more concentrated in flavor than what typically comes out of the AeroPress. Is it true espresso? No, but for $55, it’s pretty dang good. I enjoyed the thicker texture and the sweet, chocolaty flavors.
Attempt #2 had the same parameters as #1 but this time I stirred the coffee for 20 seconds as recommended to me at the James Coffee Co. shop.
Better looking! Flavor was pretty much the same but it has marginally more crema.
For comparison, I pulled a shot on my Quick Mill Silvano to check if maybe crema was just impossible with beans this old. Turns out it wasn’t – the 8 bars of pressure really do make a difference.
I am impressed at how dry the puck came out of the Prismo. This was rather satisfying to expunge!
Lastly, because I wasn’t satisfied with the first test, I bought another bag of the same espresso beans and repeated the test with beans that were 5 days post-roast. I ended up with the same results as before (picture #2). The flavor was great, though.
Summary: Would I recommend the Prismo? Yes, I would, with caveats. If you’re hoping for the same sort of real crema that you’d get from an espresso machine with 8 bars of pressure, you’ll be disappointed as this device doesn’t create nearly enough pressure for that. However, if you’re looking for something that produces the syrupy, thick, rich flavors that you get from espresso, that is easy to clean, and requires no stove or electricity (other than what you’d need to heat water), the Prismo is a winner. I had previously written about how to make a great cappuccino at home on a budget, which is basically combining an AeroPress coffee concentrate + a jar to froth your milk, and I think the Prismo would make this even better since the flavors are more concentrated than you can get with an AeroPress alone.
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